[CFP] Translation as Position-Taking in the Literary Field

Translation as Position-Taking in the Literary Field: Agents and institutions of translated literature in Italy and of Italian literature abroad (20th and 21st Century)

23-24 April 2021, University of Leeds (Leeds, UK)

Abstract Proposal Deadline: 1 September 2020
E-mail: tptlf21@gmail.com

“Translations do not take place in a vacuum” (Blakesley 2018). They cannot be seen as isolated textual entities, detached from the field in which they are produced and that provides for their signification (Sapiro 2008). It is indeed important to investigate translated literature as “part and parcel of the target literature’s literary corpus” (Sisto 2019), by conceiving translations as the actual selections (position-takings) by literary producers and mediators among all the possibilities (positions) in a target literary field (Bourdieu 1996). Although the notion of translated literature dates back to Even-Zohar’s seminal work, this approach has only recently been adopted by scholars working on the Italian literary field (Billiani 2007; La Penna 2008; Milani 2017; Baldini et al. 2018) and the translation of Italian literature within specific target fields (Bokobza 2008; Schwartz 2018).

The aim of the conference is to foster critical discussion on translated literature as part of the target literature, by focusing on literary institutions (publishing houses, book series, journals) and agents (translators, literary agents, editors), and the composite sociocultural factors driving the selection, production, and publication of literary translations. “Calling into question the politics of canonisation and moving resolutely away from ideas of universal literary greatness”(Bassnett and Trivedi 1999), we are particularly interested in social categories of writers who have been dismissed by literary critics who insisted on “the autonomy of the aesthetic” (Bloom 1994); in other words, writers who challenge the ‘Western canon’.

The conference aims to explore the mechanisms of reception, dissemination, recognition and popularisation in the Italian literary system of foreign literature. This could include literature by women authors in translation, by feminist translators, authors from non-hegemonic/non-central languages, non-white, minoritarian and marginalised authors/groups and collectives. We are also interested in similar mechanisms by which Italian literature is translated and received beyond Italy.

Keynote speakers at the conference will be Prof Susan Bassnett (Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow; President of the British Comparative Literature Association), Dr Jacob Blakesley (Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Literary Translation at the University of Leeds) and Dr Cecilia Schwartz (Associate Professor in Italian at Stockholm University).

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • translation and reception of literature(s) in translation in Italy and of Italian literature abroad
  • reception of literature by women in translation and feminist translation
  • translation and reception of post-colonial literature and of authors from non-hegemonic/non-central languages, non-white, minoritarian and marginalised authors/groups and collectives in Italy/from Italy
  • translation, reception and circulation of non-hegemonic literatures in Italy and Italian literature in non-hegemonic contexts
  • microsociology and microhistory of cultural mediation
  • socio-cultural constraints influencing modes of practice
  • networks of intellectuals
  • publishing houses
  • book series and literary journals
  • translators, editors, mediators and literary agents
  • censorship and control

We anticipate that the conference will take the form of panels of thematically linked papers. Each panel will consist of 15-minute paper presentations in English to leave room for extensive discussion.

In order to facilitate conversation and feedback, accepted speakers will be required to submit their papers by 1 March 2021, so as to be shared and read in advance by the other panelists.

Selected papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume.

Given the extraordinary circumstances we are currently experiencing, we are also setting up a contingency plan that will allow us to hold the conference on-line, should the coronavirus situation not be resolved by April next year.

Abstract presentation deadline: 1 September 2020
Notification of acceptance: 30 September 2020
Paper submission deadline: 1 March 2021

Proposals of no more than 500 words accompanied by a short bio (up to 250 words) and contact details should be sent to tptlf21@gmail.com.

Francesca Del Zoppo, University of Leeds
Andrea Romanzi, University of Reading, University of Bristol, SWW DTP


Conference Call for Papers